Biodiversity Accounting Supplementary Planning Document
7.1 Before a Biodiversity Accounting Scheme (i.e. the offset project) can commence, the existing baseline habitats on the land intended for compensation will need to be valued in biodiversity units by undertaking a Biodiversity Impact Assessment, using a similar method outlined in Steps 1 to 4 above. In addition to this Biodiversity Impact Assessment, a Spatial Factor will be included.
7.2 The Spatial Factor is an incentivising factor that promotes compensation in areas that support sub-regional strategies –such as focussing efforts in Biodiversity Opportunity Areas and other strategic sites as set out in Buckinghamshire's local biodiversity strategies.
7.3 Providers of the offsetting scheme are landowners who have land available for habitat restoration or creation or a broker may have Biodiversity Accounting Schemes or approved mechanisms that match development losses. In cases where compensation is arranged through a third party broker, the council will require a Reporting Fee. This fee is to keep a register of the compensation sites and monitor their progress over the 30 years' perpetuity period. The council may also use this information in its Authorities Monitoring Reports to measure the effectiveness of its Biodiversity Net Gain policies.
7.4 Compensation sites will need to meet the following standards and will be secured by legal agreement associated with any planning consent.
7.5 Proposals for off-site compensation measures, collectively referred to as a Biodiversity Accounting Scheme, will require:
- a methodology for the identification of any receptor site(s) for accounting measures;
- the identification of any such receptor site(s);
- the provision of arrangements to secure the delivery of any compensation measures (including a timetable for their delivery); and
- a Biodiversity Accounting Management and Monitoring Plan including details of the provision and maintenance of any compensation measures, following good practice guidance, for example the Warwickshire County Council Good Practice Guidance.
7.6 Under the Natural Environment Partnership-constructed scheme, the priority for offsets, therefore, will be on already-owned land (e.g. by Buckinghamshire Council or willing landowners) or land purchased to secure net gains to mitigate the impacts of the development.
7.7 The government's proposed text for the Environment Act states that a site's enhancement must be maintained for at least 30 years after completion of a development, which also accords with the length of time a compensatory hedgerow will be required to be retained under the Hedgerow Regulations 2007, Section 8. (4)(b).
7.8 The Government's response to the net gain consultation states that "…in practice, a thirty-year minimum can sometimes amount to funding in perpetuity if the funds for 30 years are invested prudently".
7.9 Any offset land must not already be serving as mitigation for previous development, including Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace; unless the proposed mitigation is an additional biodiversity net gain to that offset land.